Glad you asked! Since Griffith’s was a tax list, it had to be kept up to date so the government would always be able to identity the taxpayer. After Griffith’s the valuators would return with notebooks every few years to document the current occupancy. The notebooks were set up with the same columns as Griffith’s and if there were any changes, the old information was crossed out and the new information written in with the date of the change written in the final column.
Each year was done in a different color ink, and when there was no room to write in the changes, the current information was written into a new notebook and the process started again. Each time a new book was started, the old book was “cancelled.” The cancelled books were bound together from oldest to newest. These books, known as the Revision Books or sometimes the Cancelled Books allow you to follow the property from the time of Griffith’s. When a change was made, there was likely a life event, perhaps a death or emigration and you should look for the appropriate record.
These books are one of my favorite resources. If your ancestors lived in what is now the Republic of Ireland, the books go up to, in some cases, the 1970s. The bad news is that at the present time, they can only be accessed at the Valuation Office in Dublin. Well, that’s not entirely true, they are available on microfilm at the FamilyHistory Library, but the microfilms are in black and white (making it difficult to determine the year of the event) and the order is hard to follow. As part of the Ireland Research Trip we spend a day at the Valuation Office in Dublin (usually one of the favorite repositories). Up until this past October, all of the work was done in the original manuscript books. You would provide the details from Griffith’s and the staff would return with a pile of books (shown above). In the past few years, some of the books had been digitized and are available to view on computers in the office. They are not (yet) available online. The digitization is an important step as the original books are deteriorating. Hopefully in the future we’ll see these online.
Once you’ve found your ancestor in Griffith’s, you have the information you need to search the Revision Books. In the parish of Rossinver in the Barony of Rosclogher in County Leitrim, the townland of Laghta, number 29 is Matthew Mackey.
Using that information at the Valuation Office, I received a stack of books to review with all of the changes from the original valuation. The books were bound from oldest to newest, so starting at the back of the first book I found the townland of Laghta in the index, went to the page where the townland started, and looked for number 29 which was still Matthew Mackey.
Moving forward in the bound volume to the next book I find that Matthew’s name is crossed out and above it is written James. Following that line across to the last column, I find that change was made in 70. (Note the yellow is my highlight from a black and white copy I made in 1997.) Checking the civil registration records I find the death record for Matthew on 9 Mar 1870.
As I continue through the books I find that James Mackey purchased the land through the Land Acts (L.A.P.) in 1918, the property moved to George Mackey (in 1927) and was sold out of the family to Miss Marion Horan (in 1932). In the final book that dates to the 1970s the property was in the possession of Patrick McGowan. Without the visual cues of the color it can be difficult to determine which year applies to which event. These images are photocopies of the originals I researched in Ireland in 1997.
If your ancestors are in what is now Northern Ireland (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry or Tyrone), the original books were sent to the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and they have been digitized and put online (free). I’ll cover that next week.
If you'll be at the Southern California Jamboree this coming week, make sure to introduce yourself.
There are still a few slots left for the Belfast Research Trip. Only a few weeks left to register.